Much of the country might have missed it, but the White House kicked off “Infrastructure Week” in early June, which was intended to be a public-relations campaign in which Donald Trump touted his support for a popular idea: improving the nation’s infrastructure.
It was, however, a flop. The White House’s plan, by officials’ own admission, is still months away from completion, which meant “Infrastructure Week” amounted to one fake signing ceremony, in which Trump put his signature on a glorified press release, asking Congress to privatize the nation’s air-traffic control system.
And two weeks later, the idea appears to be effectively dead. The Hill reported:
A Senate panel has declined to include President Trump’s controversial proposal to separate air traffic control from the federal government in a must-pass aviation bill, according to the committee’s chairman.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who leads the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the Senate’s long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not include the spinoff plan, citing the lack of support for the idea on his panel.
The Republican committee chairman told reporters yesterday, “No, we don’t have the votes to pass that in our committee at the moment.”
This doesn’t come as too big of a surprise, since Thune specifically warned the White House that the privatization idea was unlikely to go anywhere. Perhaps Trump thought by throwing his weight behind the proposal, it’d create some momentum for the presidential priority.
It didn’t. The president’s political capital doesn’t really exist in any meaningful sense.
As for the rest of the White House’s infrastructure agenda, as we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the president vowed to unveil this plan in May, but his aides are now telling reporters an official blueprint is still months away. We do, however, have a sense of what the Trump administration has in mind: the president’s vision involves “sharply curtailing the federal government’s funding of the nation’s infrastructure and calling upon states, cities and corporations to shoulder most of the cost of rebuilding roads, bridges, railways and waterways.”
As a candidate, Trump voiced support for a $1 trillion infrastructure overhaul, and criticized Hillary Clinton’s plan for not spending nearly enough money on this national priority. The White House has now signaled that the $1 trillion plan will never exist, and Team Trump actually intends to scale back federal efforts to improve the nation’s infrastructure.
Indeed, the Trump administration’s recently unveiled federal budget plan eyes cuts to infrastructure spending, which is the opposite of what the Republican president vowed to do if elected.
Congressional Democrats, who saw this as one of the key issues on which there could be bipartisan cooperation, are now effectively giving up, recognizing that everything Trump said he believed about infrastructure was, for all intents and purposes, a lie.